Is James MacDonald Planning a Comeback?

Is recently-fired Harvest Bible Chapel founder, James MacDonald, planning a comeback?

Yesterday, Barry Bowen at The Christian Sentinel speculated that he is, noting that on March 13, Harvest Bible Chapel Attorney Chris Nudo registered a new non-profit, “Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonald,” with the state of Illinois. Walk in the Word is MacDonald’s former radio and TV Bible teaching ministry, which used to broadcast daily to millions.

I went to the Illinois Secretary of State website and verified that the new corporation was indeed filed in March, listing Nudo as its agent. However, I talked with Chris Nudo and he denied having anything to do with “Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonald.”

“It is not anything I endorsed or approved,” Nudo said. He added that he had just recently found out about the new entity and was in the process of dissolving it.

When I inquired as to how someone could start a new “Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonald” and name him as an agent without his permission, Nudo said, “To know the mind of James MacDonald is to understand, ‘There are no limits or bounds to what I can do.’”

“To know the mind of James MacDonald is to understand, ‘There are no limits or bounds to what I can do.’”

Nudo emphatically stated that he no longer does any work for MacDonald nor does he have a relationship with him.

I called the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and talked to an agent there who didn’t want to give her name. However, she told me that the fee to register “Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonald” was paid by Attorney Thomas Winters of Tusla, Oklahoma. Winters also serves on the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability’s Panel of Experts for the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations. I contacted Attorney Winters’ office in Tulsa and left a message with his assistant to call me. So far, I have not heard back from him.

The agent at the Secretary of State’s office also told me that the three officers listed on the new corporation are James and Kathy MacDonald of Elgin, Illinois, and Warren Bauerfeld of Woodbury, Minnesota. She added that on April 17, Attorney Winters filed bylaws for the new corporation with the Secretary of State’s office.

I contacted James MacDonald, asking about the new Walk in the Word, but he did not respond. I also called a Warren Bauerfeld in Minnesota who told me I must be looking for his son, who is also named Warren Bauerfeld. The elder Bauerfeld said his son went to school with MacDonald and that the two are good friends. Bauerfeld’s wife took my name and number and said she’d tell her son that I’d like to talk with him, but I didn’t receive a return call.

Last week, Harvest’s elder board and church leadership team reported that Harvest’s mortgage lender had refused to allow the church to release any assets to MacDonald, including intellectual property, physical property, or cash. The board added that its lender’s decision nullified a previous separation agreement the church had signed with MacDonald.

The elders further stated that none of “Walk in the Word’s donations or assets have gone to James, and we will not be giving him anything in the future.”

So, it would seem MacDonald’s plan to relaunch his broadcast ministry has been foiled. Except for a Facebook post about his mother-in-law’s passing two weeks ago, MacDonald has not made any public statements since his removal from the church on February 12.

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32 thoughts on “Is James MacDonald Planning a Comeback?

  1. FormerHarvestMember

    The Lord has blinded James, and opened the eyes of many faithful true Christians. It was obvious to all that he was going to do this and re-launch in Naples. That seems foiled, too. He got Jeff Donaldson there instead, I’m sure the backup plan. I can’t imagine a next chess move if Harvest actually keeps his assets. I think the Lord may keep blocking his moves!

  2. Julie, great investigative journalism…AGAIN! I appreciate your following this as it develops. But it still saddens me.

  3. Martin Taylor

    It appears that James MacDonald is having a hard time adjusting to life without his $1 million annual salary and his $1 million mad money fund, along with all his other revenue streams. The poor dear.

  4. Barbara

    After what he has done he’s lost the right to preach. Has he even truly repented? I certainly wouldn’t listen to anything he has to say.

  5. Susan Vonder Heide

    This guy really needs to contemplate the effect that he has had on Christ’s church. It is a time to step back, to pray, and to reflect.

  6. bikebubba

    Of course he’s going to try; that’s the unfortunate pattern in fundagelicalism. Get disgraced for whatever reason, go on to continue “ministry” when you find new buddies. See guys like David Hyles, Mark Driscoll, Paige Patterson, etc.. The best we can hope for is that they will not recover their former prominence and authority.

    Really, we need to watch what guys are saying and doing when the going is good. OK, I’m bragging a bit, but I did spot MacDonald as a fraud back in 2014, just a few months after I became aware he existed. All you needed to do was to look at his teaching; the funniest one for me was claiming he’d overcome his addiction to food in Authentic when he was clearly 50 lbs overweight. Hey, be overweight–I am to a degree–but don’t tell me you’ve got the healthiest relationship to food if you do!

    • Debbie Gowtham

      I had read Jim Bakker’s book “I Was Wrong” and thought he truly “got it”!!! That he saw the error of his false doctrines and teaching. I was stunned to see what he’s doing today:( Only God knows His purpose in allowing these false teachers even tho we’re warned in scripture. In James’ case, he appeared to have started out with sound doctrine and somewhere went seriously off course. I’ve read a few articles which suggest that the brain chemistry of malignant narcissists gets worse with age which it what we could be witnessing in his behaviour.

      • bikebubba

        You mean you don’t think selling five year supplies of rancid Velveeta for “survival” qualifies as real evidence of the fruit that the Holy Spirit brings?

        (on the light side, the survival food business reminds me of the old joke about the soldier in WWII who gets lost on Guadalcanal and survives by eating nuts and berries while dodging the Japanese…by a miracle, he finds his old unit, who welcome him back and offer him some SPAM….upon which he decides he’ll take his risks with the Japanese, nuts, and berries)

    • FLMom

      I think also they can’t figure out any other way to make a living.

  7. Jon

    Thank you Julie for not relenting and being diligent in seeing this through.

  8. Lester C. Fretz

    Julie, your ongoing, relentless journalistic investigation provides a tremendous service to sincere, generous Christians who need to be apprised that fraudulent “wolves in sheep’s clothing” are constantly fleecing unsuspecting and ill informed donors.

  9. harvesTED

    Jesus wept. John 11:35

  10. Tacitus

    Is James MacDonald Planning a Comeback?

    Is the Pope Catholic?

    Seriously though, people like James MacDonald who, despite his obvious flaws, worked tirelessly to build his Harvest Chapel empire over the last 30 years, typically do not like to be idle. They have to be doing something, and given it’s all he knows, it was inevitable he was going to try again.

    It’s probably not even about the money. Unless he’s been as profligate with his own spending as he was with the church’s money, he doesn’t need to work another day in his life.

    He almost certainly believes he did not deserve to be ousted, and that he still has a mission to fulfill, so even if he’s denied access to the WITW intellectual property, he’s going to pop up again somewhere, sooner or later. As others have already noted, far more disreputable preachers have relaunched their careers — even outright frauds like Peter Popoff and Robert Tilton — so it’s to be expected.

  11. Steven B

    If HBC denies the ex pastor of rights to Walk in the Word, then why doesn’t the church take down the site or remove his name from it?

  12. Jacob

    Would you give it a break already? Why are you giving him more attention? At this point, it’s not news…it’s slander. Please move on to something else instead of continuing to kick a man when he’s down.

    • Fisher

      Jacob, the definition of slander can be found by typing that word into your web browser. You will find the Legal dictionary and Merriam-Webster have this to say:

      n. oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed.

      1 : the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation
      2 : a false and defamatory oral statement about a person

      Investigative journalism which uncovers and reports facts about provable real life events cannot, by definition, be slander.

    • He’s not down at all. I don’t know what you are looking at. I say keep kicking and kicking until it finally breaks the back of this selfish unrepentant man.

  13. Sabrina

    My Goodness! If the Lord is blocking James’s moves then Amen! Either way our God’s got this. Praise to Him!

  14. Mark

    Why no legal prosecution
    There is enough probable cayse

  15. Special K

    I think ManCow may need to share more of his tapes. James does not deserve to be preaching ever again. This is just another way for James to scam, mistreat and steal good peoples money. James is truly a very skilled scam artist. He should work on repaying and apologizing all the people he’s lied to and hurt.

    • Kobear

      True!

  16. Becky

    But who will listen?

  17. Shelly Edwards

    I am truly broken-hearted over this whole mess. I don’t know if James is unrepentant or not. Because he hasn’t as of yet made a public statement doesn’t mean he is not. I don’t know what is going on in his heart – I know what things look like, but that is never the whole story. I continue to pray for him and his family and anyone who has been hurt by this awful mess. We serve a mighty God who can redeem anything. I, for one, heard some messages from James that literally changed my life. They were biblically solid teachings and I will miss having access to them. In my opinion, I have seen enough bashing. I am not accusing anyone of slander, but much has been exposed – can’t you just give it a rest now?

    • Tony

      You know Shelly that is a fair point. I applaud you for having the character to pray for James. Really. You have a good heart.

      Understandably, many people are (rightfully) angry at James for many reasons (embezzlement, emotional and spiritual manipulation, etc. …), but that doesn’t preclude them from praying for him. It’s possible (though certainly not easy) to simultaneous hold feelings of hurt and betrayal while praying for the perpetrator. Your point about “bashing” is fair too. Though good for a good chuckle here or there, it’s not obviously productive discourse to resort to name calling. On the other hand, calling a spade a spade isn’t bashing. Pursuing truth and confronting those who make a mockery of that which they hold sacred isn’t bashing either; necessary in my opinion. Somehow, the two actions (name calling and truth telling) seem to get blended on these blogs. As mentioned in earlier comments, I don’t believe many of those posting comments on the various blogs have a vindictive attitude, but I do believe they (and Julie Roys for that matter) seek to deny James McDonald (and those who support him) the capacity to cause more harm.

    • David

      That is scary ! It would be far far safer for your soul that you would of heard a message from the Lord that changed your life. Also you say ” they were biblically solid teachings ” which means to me that you know what is sound and what is not sound, therefore why were you not letting the ANOINTING TEACH YOU ALL THINGS? 1John 2:27
      DISOBEDIENCE TO HIS WORD IS SIN……
      So NO I can’t ” just give it a rest now”…….. ETERNITY IS COMING QUICKLY and there are FEW that will find it.

    • Mountain Girl

      Hi Shelly,

      He has made a statement by demanding more yet money in a recent meeting with Harvest. Some reports are that the elders got him down from $1 Million to $500k.

      That demonstrates that:
      (a) he could care less about Harvest which is suffering from a drop in givings due to his behavior,
      (b) a continued intention to fleece the flock out of their offerings for every last dime he can, and
      (c) he is unrepentant about his actions and no intention of changing them.

  18. GJ

    To Julie, many thanks in revealing the truth hidden in darkness. To Shelly, I do understand your heart is broken but JMac has causes tremendous damage in the Lord’s Name. The time, energy, money and such have been wasted when it should have been allocated to ministry to grow His Church. He has shown that he is unrepentant and continues in gross sin and makes a mockery of Christ and His Kingdom. He is only concerned for himself and has no regard for HBC; leaving it $40M in debt. It seems he committed forgery by using Chris Nudo’s name to register his new scam with the three officers in this scam as himself, his wife (Sapphira) and a college schoolmate. To Jacob, who is concern that we are “continuing to kick a man when he’s down.” You are very, very wrong; JMac is alive like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour.

  19. Disappointed

    “Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.”
    Isaiah 50:11

    JMac, is this you, and the others that let this happen?

  20. FLMom

    The phrase ‘Walk in the Word” is trademarked as are a couple of combinations of that phrase with James McDonald’s name. The owner of the trademarks is Walk in the Word, Inc, an IL nonprofit corporation that appears to be under the control of the church as the address of that Corporation, per the IL Secretary of State’s website is the main church address and the principal officer is listed as Jeff Sharda.

    If James does not own the right to use that phrase, he could be in legal jeopardy if he uses that phrase for marketing purposes. Of course the church would have to pay an attorney to take action on those rights.

    • David

      Sounds like we have a WORLDLY , WORLDLY , WORLDLY situation here……………….
      WAKE UP EVERYBODY ! Before it’s too late

  21. tomas

    Once you are fired, for whatever reason, there is no nexus of employer to employee. To hold otherwise would mean anyone no longer employed could demand “reconciliation” to regain employment. JMac is being a ferret, now that he realizes NO one wants to associate with him, let alone hire him. He figuratively has “the mark of Cain” on his forehead!

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